Colorado Bound: Rock Springs, WY -> Steamboat Springs, CO
4 September ’17
Rock Springs by daylight is like every other town I’ve passed through in Wyoming - a natural gas boom town built on top of the ruins of a farming/ranching town. Western touches abound, especially a fetishizing of horses and cowboy hat motifs, but you’ll not actually SEE either in your time in this part of the state. Sad :(
I rolled out at 7am and 48F, and within 5 minutes on the highway was like “hmmmm… heated gear, that’d be nice!!” Hopped off after 30 miles at yet another wide spot and had trucker coffee, counting gas trucks and drilling company rigs roll in and out. by 8:30 it’d warmed up to 59F, and I decided I needed to get the hell out of this state.
Speed limit is 80; The Morrigan can touch the lower 90s (I checked!) but I’m not comfortable going > 75, what with all the giant trucks and the wind.. dear lord, the wind.
I trusted Siri to take a “shortcut” that wasn’t highway, which lead me on an actually amazing detour through the gas fields. I saw a coyote, drove through a herd of confused cattle, and endured a steadily deteriorating road. It started as asphalt, turned to hard pack, then rough dirt, then loose gravel and cow patties.. finally, after 15 miles of this I got to where this road met with the highway… AND THERE’S A F’ING LOCKED GATE. 🤣
So, a “lost” hour or so, but totally worth it, getting to see something besides the scary highway, see what the gas fields look like, etc.
Ran down WY789 through the Red Desert and the Great Basin to Baggs, WY, another 450 person town that doesn’t really have much to recommend it besides being the last stop before entering Colorado. Stopped for a soda at the one gas station in town, and was reminded that no, it isn’t that people here are surly, it’s that I’m a weirdo outsider, and the subtle class distinctions that ensure that my privileged white upperclass ass gets kissed by service industry folk do not apply here. It was a nice reminder of how insidious class privilege is that I had to be reminded of it by a series of store clerks who do NOT HAVE TIME FOR MY SHIT.
Crossing into a new state should just be an arbitrary thing, a line on the map that doesn’t mean nothing, but this one is special. You crest a small hill and WHOOOPS the roads plunges into a valley, a long drop of several hundred feet of elevation, and nary a gas well in sight; the laws of colorado regarding resource extraction are such that you cross a line and no more dirty trucks and grubby hills, but now its farm land.. a welcome sight after 2 days of Wyoming. (WY, I’m sorry, but your southern regions are fugly.)
The ride from the border to Steamboat Springs was fantastic. Roads weren’t chewed up by the big trucks, traffic was light to nonexistent, and wildlife everywhere! I counted 14 antelope, 5 elk, countless hawks, rabbits, and ground squirrels scurrying across the road.
Oh, and trees! Last time I saw a legit hillside of trees was 3 days ago in Oregon when I dropped out of the mountains east of Prairie City, OR.
Rolling up on Steamboat was fabulous. US40 from Craig, CO to Steamboat is rolling farmland, mountains obscured by smoke from the wildfires unfortunately, but it looked like “home” Steamboat itself is a resort town, with the usual assortment of shops and the like.. plus tons of condos and fancy buildings, rafting guides, ski tuners, etc.
Passed by a slick looking ADV kitted VStrom 1000 and struck up a conversation with the rider.. it’s almost too easy, just compliment the bike or ask about how they like a piece of kit. Twenty minutes later, I have a new friend from Denver, who happens to be THE off-road/ADV guy for butler maps in Colorado. I get five different ride recommendations, shake hands, and he says “I’ll have to go check out your bike!”
30 minutes later I’m walking around Steamboat Springs when I hear “kerri! Hey! Kerri!” He runs up, excited to talk about the new VStrom (he rides a ‘12) and insists on setting me up with an intro to a women’s ADV rider group/class here in CO in a couple weeks, and connects me to a round the world motoblogger lady 😂
So now I have friends in Telluride.
I stopped to make conversation with the two older women socializing outside their nextdoor room at the motel and before I know it I had a drink in my hand and, along with the one woman’s husband, was at a Mexican 🌮 joint stuffing my face. The older woman and her husband invited me to their place in the Georgia mountains and this is how I now have friends who live on Springer Mountain 🙂
I’ve been making a ton of of friends on this trip. There really is something about the bike that makes people decide I’m 😎 and they approach ME to chat.